By Rep. Ted Edmonds
Only 24 days to go in our legislative session as I write this, and House leaders are fine-tuning the details on the budget they’ll present to us in the coming days. With more than $1.2 billion that needs to be cut, everything is on the table. I’ll keep you informed, but at the moment it looks like most areas of government will receive 2 percent cuts, a small amount considering the overall hole we’re in. Many non-merit political hires will likely be laid off, state workers will pay more for their health care costs, and we’ll be eliminating a lot of contracts that we either simply don’t need or that can be done much more cheaply. As the speaker said, this is a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity to really focus on what we should be doing as a state.
Now to the legislation that’s already passed the House. This past week we approved House Resolution 132, which urges Congress to slow down federal regulation carbon regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency. While we all want to keep our environment safe and beautiful, we don’t want to eliminate industry as a result. HR 132 simply asks Congress to make its own determinations before businesses across Kentucky and the nation has to undergo costly changes to reduce their output of carbon dioxide.
House Bill 213, meanwhile, would make it easier for the state to build carbon dioxide pipelines, allowing clean coal facilities to store their carbon in areas where it is safe instead of building everything up on-site. This could be a boon to our coal industry and create hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs.
I was glad to hear that the Senate has started passing some of our House bills, sending them on to the governor to sign into law. One of those bills, HB 51, would require every public middle school and high school to hand out literature to their students on suicide prevention. Very often, the signs of depression are there if those close to the person can only recognize them. As adults, we’d like to think we understand our children enough to see those signs, but the truth is that they’re more likely to open up to their friends at school. HB 51 will hopefully give their friends a better chance of reporting their problems to those who can help.
It’s getting down to crunch time in the legislature. Stay in contact with me so I can do the best job possible of serving your interests in Frankfort. Just call our legislative message line at 1-800-372-7181, or call my office at 502-564-8100, ext. 818 to let me know how you feel.